By Samuetta Hill Drew
Last week’s article reviewed the seriousness of the measles disease and why. It also addressed possible health ramifications for children who may contract the disease and why this disease has resurfaced at a seemingly rapid and alarming rate. Now let’s dive a little deeper into this topic.
Many wonder how this disease spreads so they know best how to keep their child(ren) safe. The measles virus spreads through the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs and someone nearby inhales the infected droplets. It can also be transmitted by direct contact with fluids from the nose or mouth of an infected person.
Remember this is one of the most contagious agents known to man. Therefore, it’s extremely important for you to wash your hands frequently! You should wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You should make sure others in your home do the same regularly, especially if they come in contact with the baby and/or toddlers. It is a good practice not to allow people to kiss your baby in the face or on their hands!
Other precautions for helping to keep your child(ren) safe include limiting your child’s exposure to large crowds, other children and anyone with a cold. It is recommended you disinfect home objects and surfaces. Also, babies who are breastfed by a mother who has received the vaccine uniquely receive antibodies from the mom to prevent and fight infections. This is one of the reasons they don’t recommend babies under 6 months receive the vaccine.
Since the measles have been rarely seen in years, many don’t recognize its signs and symptoms. Keep in mind that infants and children may be contagious for days before there are any signs or symptoms. It usually begins like a bad cold with symptoms such as a fever, cough, runny nose and conjunctivitis (commonly known as the pink eye). It is followed by a rash on the head and spreads down the rest of the body. Many children also get ear infections.
The measles symptoms are bad enough, but the danger comes from the possible complications which can be associated with a child who contracts the virus. These serious complications involve possible pneumonia or encephalitis (an infection of the brain).
This why the outlook for a child who gets the measles is not good. Remember in the U.S. one or two out of every 1000 children die from it. The same number of children also suffer from encephalitis and go on to have long-term brain damage.
When you’re traveling this summer as a family with young children, it is best to check the status of measles in the state and/or area you’re visiting so you can Keep an Eye on Safety. We will end this series next week discussing safety tips for traveling both inside and outside of the country.